DO you know that now we also have a “World Coconut Day” promoted by the Asian & Pacific Community (APCS). Yes, coconuts are being promoted as anti-poverty food and of all-purpose use! We in India should surely understand this for it is wish-fulfilling tree traditionally and even in religious mythology lore….it is the kalpavriksha tree. Consider yourself rich and self-sufficient if you have a coconut tree.
I’m thinking on World Coconut Day we should gift each other a coconut sapling to grow somewhere for good luck and by way of insurance against poverty! Of course we also have Narali Pournima which is celebrated in the Hindu month of Shravan sometime July/August when the moon is full and bright and looks down benignly from the skies….
Most of us of course when we think coconuts may think pina coloda or Thai curry or any number of our Konkan coast recipes – there’s hardly a Goan recipe which does not feature the fruit of the coconut tree, be it coconut kernel pieces, grated coconut, coconut milk, these days one may even find coconut flour….and then there is of course coconut oil and extra special virgin coconut oil which is going places these days as a super food for those who suffer from dementia and a host of other ailments. Drink a tablespoon of pure coconut tree daily!
You may also engage in such rites as gargling with coconut oil to combat tooth cavities, apply the oil all over you by way of moisturizer after a bath, and of course make it the cooking oil in your kitchen. So highly rates is the humble coconut oil today that it’s price now hovers somewhere close to the skies! Even Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali shops are marketing excellent quality virgin grade coconut oil, I find it very good.
This is to say the coconut tree which blows through our coastal beaches and lands has finally arrived and is cherished by all. It has come a long, long way from the time Marco Polo the traveler discovered it Sumatra in Indonesia sometime 1280 and wrote about it as the “Nux Indica” or “India Nut”! In our timeline of 2000 most every home has coconut oil or soap or products in the kitchen and bedroom….not to forget that nowadays craftsmen turn out first class quality coconut bowls, spoons, stirrers, and what not and what not.
The coconut tree is blessing of a tree and in Goa they make brooms out of the dry leaf spines too, also torches to use in the fields and for a long, long time women used coconut husk as pads to wash their vessels, I still like them for everything coconut tree is environmentally and health friendly! It is our tree of life, a tragedy if we forget this in our chase for more and more plastics.
Hey, celebrate and use the coconut tree more. Worship it. In Hinduism, we do, it features as a star ingredient in most every rite and ritual! Which reminds me during the southern India festival of Thaipusam people love to smash coconuts before the chariot of Lord Subramaniam out on a procession….the coconut is a symbol of the ego and breaking it before our gods is akin to saying here Lord, I’m offering up my ego to you! Children and adults try to collect the smashed coconut pieces of course to prize out the kernel and relish its crunchy, juicy, sweet white deliciousness. In my youth there was never a temple I went to where the priest didn’t offer a few coconut tukda as prasadam…going to the temple was meaningless if I didn’t get my coconut pieces. Nowadays of course temples too have lost their sense of what coconut means in some of the most ancient prasadam for people!
By the way coconut kernel is said to be rich in lauric acid and coconut milk the next best thing to mother’s milk, if I had children I’d feed them with coconut milk in the absence of mother’s milk. How come nobody promotes thin is mainstream medicine? In Penang in Malaysia where I lived once upon a time, one could go buy freshly grated coconut in the local wet market place, the kernel skinned of its dark brown skin if you asked the coconut vendor. He would be sitting somewhere shady with a pail full of coconut kernel pieces soaking in water….depending on how much you wanted, he would take out a few pieces and run them through a grating machine and low and behold — you got your fresh oozing with juicy milk grated coconut for the day. Use as you wish in your kitchen cooking. It didn’t cost an arm and leg either.
The fresh grated coconut would be packed up in a banana leaf pudi and retailed for popular use in local snacks and recipes. How come I don’t see these coconut grating machines in Goa or in India? If someone retailed them it would be rip roaring business. Few trees I love more than our kalpavriksha coconut trees, a tree which inspires poetry ….the original tall swaying trees, not the hybrid dwarf variety.

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